“Nothing to reproach us for”, a “litany of absurd things”: a leader of the small ultra-right group La Citadelle, Aurélien Verhassel, denounced on Monday the “unjust and unfounded” dissolution procedure which targets the Lille association. “The La Citadelle association has suffered uninterrupted legal harassment for nine years,” he declared to the press. Aurélien Verhassel announced that he would go to the Interior Ministry on Wednesday “to explain himself”.
This procedure launched “a few days” ago, according to a source close to the matter, comes after the dissolution on Wednesday in the Council of Ministers of another small ultra-right group, the Martel Division. “They (the Ministry of the Interior, NLDR) are going to dissolve us on the basis of an offense of opinion,” added the former member of the dissolved group Génération identitaire, specifying that he had “never been convicted for the alleged facts”.
During the press conference, the manager of the eponymous bar listed some of the 20 points criticized against the association by the Ministry of the Interior. Only “five directly concern La Citadelle”, affirmed Aurélien Verhassel, the others having according to him nothing to do or attacking him personally.
Council of State or European Court of Human Rights
The association, singled out for conveying “an ideology inciting hatred”, is notably blamed for a video published in 2016 by the I-Télé channel (now Cnews) in which Aurélien Verhassel allegedly mentions the criterion “of white race” to become a member of La Citadelle. An accusation denied by the manager, who supports a montage of the channel when he was in reality quoting “a passage attributed to De Gaulle”.
Another point criticized by the association this time concerns a passage broadcast on RMC Story “in which I invited Muslims to return to live their religion in peace in the land of Islam, whether they leave by plane, by boat or in flying saucers,” he added. “It is always wrong to be right before everyone else” he defended himself, justifying defending “all cultures (…) including Islam, in a land of Islam”.
Headquarters of the Lille ultra-right, the La Citadelle bar was closed in mid-February by the town hall, but administrative justice authorized it to reopen at the end of February, considering that the City had not respected the appropriate procedure. After the banned evening, the Lille public prosecutor’s office nevertheless opened an investigation on February 13 for “public incitement to hatred or violence because of origin, ethnicity or race”. “I have good reasons to believe that the dissolution will not pass before the Council of State,” concluded Mr. Verhassel. “And otherwise, we will go before the European Court of Human Rights.”
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